Most of us seldom go out of our way to shop for keyboards, unless you are a frequent gamer or a coder. Our sleek laptops and tablets with their built-in keys get the job done, so why bother? The truth is, with a mechanical keyboard, you're typing faster and with better accuracy, on an accessory that's probably going to last you a good number of years. But, there's more to their lure, as experts tell us.
Is a mechanical keyboard better?
Durable, tactile and more accurate, mechanical keyboards are our classic PC keyboards from the '80s that activate plastic switches underneath the keys when typed on, unlike the far less enjoyable pressure pads found on laptops today.
"Mechanical keyboards are very comfortable to use, and their key travel is satisfying. You don't want to be in the office, typing on a membrane keyboard and not getting that tactile feedback," said Hashim Rashid, a sales manager at PC accessory store Gadgetz in Dubai, who personally prefers mechanical keyboards when gaming and working.
"These are expensive, but mechanical keyboards have a longer life, so they're worth the extra buck spent," said Rashid, adding that you can get at least five to seven years of use.
With these on hand, you'll be typing out error-free documents, too. Mohamed Imran, an assistant sales manager at Newcom Computer Systems in Dubai, says mechanical keyboards improve typing experience and support anti-ghosting. That is, even if you've pressed multiple keys at the same time, the keyboard will register them all.
Which keyboard switch is best for me?
Indeed, the soft, buttery clickety-clack of keys can actually be very satisfying. This sensory experience depends on the type of switches used in a mechanical keyboard - blue, brown or red.
"Before buying a keyboard of any brand, you should think about the type of switches you want. There are three standard switches: blue is clicky as it's on the noisier end, red is linear, which means it's silent and very responsive, and brown sits in the middle with good tactile feedback and sound," said Rashid.
Don't worry - you can always swap and customise switches on a mechanical keyboard, if you want to try a different feedback. Ideally, adds Rashid, red switches should be your go-to for PC gaming and in-office use. "Blue switches need more force for a response, brown switches are softer to touch, but reds are the most responsive. Plus, you don't want to disturb your colleagues with your loud keystrokes," he said.
Our list of the best mechanical keyboards features expert recommendations, along with the best-rated options. With a Prime subscription, you can get your hands on these keyboards even faster.
1. Best Overall: RK ROYAL KLUDGE RK100
- Great for beginners
- Includes numeric keypad and arrow keys
- Backlit customisable RGB lights
- Three connection modes - wireless and wired
- Good battery life, according to reviews
- Has limited functionality for Mac devices
Rashid's own personal keyboard, this all-white RK (Royal Kludge) gives you 100 keys with the 10-key numeric keypad on the right side, so it’s ideal for work. Connect it to your system using Bluetooth, a type-C USB cable, or the included USB dongle easily, giving you a full week of use in wireless mode. Typing on RK100 will sound soft and buttery with tactile feedback, since its mechanical keys are attached to brown switches. RK recommends brown for those bringing in their very first mechanical keyboard. Especially pleasant on the eyes, the keys are backlit with RGB lights that you can customise. Though it has a Mac mode for MacOS users, some reviewers do note how several key shortcuts seem to be missing.
2. Best for Gaming: Corsair K100 Cherry MX Speed
- Uses silver switches by Cherry MX for gaming
- Per-key RGB backlighting with lit edges
- Customisable control wheel and six macro keys
- Detachable wrist rest
- High-quality build
- Heavy software for control wheel
A 110-key mechanical keyboard, the Corsair K100 is pricey for its aluminium frame and switches. Built for gamers, the Cherry MX Speed Silver switches deliver lightning-fast response times, compared to other types. In a competitive session, this is all you need and more to tackle enemies with no room for error. Imran's recommendation for gamers also wins for its superb customisation options, from per-key RGB backlighting to three-sided lighting on the edges. The iCue control wheel at the top can be programmed to switch applications quickly, control brightness, zoom and more. To the left, gamers have access to six extra macro G-keys, to which they can assign dedicated actions, whether for gaming or streaming. Reviewers are deeply impressed by its sturdy quality and the competitive edge the K100 has given them. They do point out that the iCue software becomes a deadweight in the background, for taking up at least 1GB of memory.
Bonus: Buy with zero percent instalments and pay Dh83.13 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh57 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh94.
3. Best for Fast Typing: Keychron K3 Ultra-Slim
- Quiet and lightweight
- Wired and wireless
- Short key travel for faster typing
- Works well with Windows and Mac computers
- No dedicated numeric keypad on the right, but users can find numeric keys at the top
- Keys might be too sensitive for some
For guaranteed macOS and Windows functionality, go for Keychron K3. "It's a very nice-looking keyboard that you can buy with red switches. Keychron is also one of the brands that let you use a mechanical keyboard with your Mac computer," said Rashid. The keyboard layout comes with 84 compact keys minus the numeric keypad, and has all the necessary Mac multimedia keys. Extra keycaps for both macOS and Windows are included for a customisable layout. This model connects to up to three different devices via Bluetooth, or you could plug-and-play with the USB type-C port. Unlike most mechanical keyboards, the K3 is designed to be low-profile and slim, making it perfect for fast typists who want a shorter travel distance.
4. Best Compact and Budget Keyboard: RK Royal Kludge RK61
- Compact-sized - easy for packing away to carry
- Customisable RGB and one-colour backlights
- Solid build, according to reviews
- Can take some time to get used to
If you're looking for a compact mechanical keyboard to toss in the bag, Rashid recommends the Royal Kludge RK61. You have the option of a clicky blue switch or a creamier brown - we've picked the latter, in case you'd want to keep the noise levels down. Its 61 keys save desk and mouse space, doing away with the dedicated numeric keypad and arrow keys. Don't fret, these are still there, but they're combined with other keys - it's something to think over, especially if the layout can cause confusion for you. The best part? Your fingers need not somersault over the keyboard because all essential keys are within reach. Customise the red-green-blue backlight on the white keyboard and adjust the brightness to your liking. Those who aren't fond of the RGB lighting can pick a full colour backlight, too. This model connects to macOS and Windows using Bluetooth or a type-C cable (included).
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh29.
5. Best Value for Linear Switch: Akko 3108 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
- Basic linear switch keyboard
- Clean, attractive design
- Value for money
- Full-sized keyboard
- Not hot swappable, since the switches are pre-built
Looking for a less flashy keyboard that doesn't scream gaming? Meet Akko’s full-sized 3108 mechanical keyboard that comes pre-built with pink linear switches, quite similar to the noiseless red switches. It's modelled after old-school keyboards seen under bulky '90s PC monitors. Besides the muted colours and clean design, social media techies and reviewers love the wired accessory for its budget-friendly price tag. You get simultaneous key presses without any conflict, which is great for light gamers. All keys are programmable, too. Users in reviews recommend the model for long typing periods.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.